Early in week 5, my group built our first stove water heater prototype. It consisted of metal tubes inside a chimney acting as a heat exchanger. These tubes connected to a tank up on the hill and the water flowed by a thermosiphon process. It worked a little bit, but he had a bunch of problems with the way it was setup and eventually the water flow direction reversed unexpectedly, melting all our plastic parts!
You can see in this photo the rain water build up on the right tube. The left tube was hot enough to evaporate any rain water quickly.
During week 5, the school had a huge anniversary celebration. This was something that all of students practiced for for 3 weeks! It was pretty spectacular to see all of the students at once in their uniforms performing.
After the celebration, I helped out Chepe and Osman make adobe blocks for their stove project. Ingredients including sand, clay, water, pine needles, horse shit, and cactus juice.
As part of the school’s celebration, there was also a dance. But before the dance, there was a ceremony where all of the guys gave a rose to one of the girls. Kristian came around early in the day giving all of the guys pieces of paper with the name of a girl. Later that night the ceremony took place in the salon. All of the girls stood on one side, and all of the guys on the other side. One by one, the guys went up to the microphone and asked for the presence of his girl. Then he said that the rose was for her. It was a pretty cool ceremony. So much better than any school ceremonies in the United States. Everyone was involved and everyone had a great time.
Last weekend, Jeremy, Andy, Kylie, Morgan, and I went down to Quail Springs for an open house event. Quail springs is a permaculture design and natural building oasis in the middle of nowhere about 2 hours East of SLO. They are working towards establishing natural building codes for California law, rehabilitating the local spring habitat, and learning and teaching permaculture design. Their natural buildings are gorgeous examples of minimal living and smart design. One cob house we went into looked as though it could have been in an architecture design magazine. The curves and natural colors of the cob were beautiful. Also, it was about 85 degrees outside but a nice 75 inside the house because of the large thermal mass and insulation that the walls and floor provided. Awnings were built to allow low winter sun to come in through the windows but high summer sun to be reflected. They are currently recovering from a flash flood so their agriculture efforts are being reestablished, but they still had lively farm animals and a strong garden going. They provided a delicious home cooked lunch for everyone, made from onsite and local ingredients. If you get the chance to take a tour of the place, I highly recommend it!
We posted the house on the couchsurfing website at the beginning of the year. Since then we have had sooo many surfers! First, was Emma, a student from San Diego who just got into grad school but didn’t have a place to stay yet when school started. Then came Luc and Julie, 2 french travelers. They stayed for 2 nights. Then came the Welsh boys: Aled, Lloyd, and Wes. These guys were a crackup! They made us bangers and mash for dinner the night they stayed (a popular dish in Wales). They were on a 4 month long trip across the states. Here is Aled holding up their map:
Wes on the banjo:
Luc in the middle and Lloyd on the right.
Everybody loves Sammy:
A few days ago, a guy named Ken came down for a wedding in Pismo. He was a software engineer coming from the bay area. He stayed with us for 4 nights. Currently, we have 2 backpackers, and tomorrow 2 Germans are coming for a night. Upham has turned into an international house!
We had to build a fence to keep Sammy and Peep separated and to keep the chickens contained when we get them. We opted to use the most abundant material at Upham: bike wheels.